Review – ‘Space Helmet for a Cow: The Mad, True Story of Doctor Who’ Volume 2′

Written by Lewis Mainwaring


Space Helmet for a Cow: The Mad, True Story of Doctor Who Volume 2‘  covers the behind-the-scenes history of the British science-fiction television programme Doctor Who (produced by the BBC).

spacehelmet_2013_web

This book follows on from the 2015 Space Helmet for a Cow: The Mad, True Story of Doctor Who – Volume 1‘ – which covered the shows original run between 1963 to it’s cancellation in 1989. 


This 304-page book is written by the award-winning writer Paul Kirkley (Doctor Who Magazine, Radio Times, SFX) as he continues his comedic and sometimes derisive view on the history of our favourite show about a time travelling alien, adventuring through the universe in his ‘little blue box’.

“If you haven’t read Volume I of Space Helmet for a Cow (and I’m not judging you, really I’m not), you missed a compelling story of triumph and tragedy, tears and tantrums, and an awful lot of men called Donald. (I copied that bit from the back cover blurb of the first book, but you won’t know that because, let’s not forget, you didn’t buy it. Still not judging. Smiley face.)

What you’re holding in your hands is designed to follow on from that first book. […] I’m conscious that twenty first-century Doctor Who also has a dedicated following among people who aren’t that bothered about the old stuff they used to make in BBC Television Centre and its local gravel pits in the days before YouTube and fashion sense. For those people, my aim has been to write the story of New Who (yeah, I went there), without too much distraction from old ghosts”.

– Paul Kirkley summarising his previous instalment.


This volume looks at the years between 1990 to 2013.

During the course of the book we go on a journey through these years that brought us;

  • The Doctor Who drought known as the ‘Wilderness Years’ of the 1990s.

An angry fist smashing down on a broken TV.

  • The 30th anniversary special ‘Dimensions in Time’ that was “so bad, it didn’t even go straight to video”.john_hurt_and_the_moment_fcc_bright_sat_9_1
  • The 1997 Doctor Who TV Movie hailed as a ‘slight return’.

    doctor_who_the_movie_paul_mcgann_and_sylvester_mccoy
  • The RETURN of Doctor Who ‘New Who‘  “World stunned by announcement that BBC Wales to make brand new Doctor Who series (There’s a BBC Wales?)”.doctor-who-cover
  • The celebrations of the 50th anniversary “when every single person in the world sat down to watch Doctor Who together (except Christopher Eccleston, who was busy)”.

iconic-image-for-doctor-who-50th-anniversary-special-the-day-of-the-doctor


The style of writing Kirkley uses to illustrate this topic really appealed to me as it was a use of comedic, serious and sarcastic all rolled into one hilarious book.

Unlike most books detailing numerous years of a TV show this one is extremely appealing and its 100% down to Kirkley’s passion for the show which resonates in every paragraph.

Whovians unite and buy this book – hopefully in a few years there will be volume 3 (with less welsh jokes)!

10/10 Sonic Screwdrivers

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